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Yes - Relayer CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.37 | 3051 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After Yes had been Fragile, after they had been Close to the Edge, and after they went through Topographic Oceans, they came upon this album, in my opinion the jazziest album they ever created. Rick Wakeman had made his first goodbye from Yes after Topographic Oceans, and his replacement on this album, Swiss keyboardist Patrick Moraz, was no slouch on the keys. Gone was the bombastic and complex keyboard arrangements and in came more well-timed, better executed, and tastefully composed keyboard lines. Alan White, who made his debut studio album with Yes on Topographic Oceans (even though he was the drummer for the Close to the Edge tour), is at his best, in my opinion. His drumming is wild, very pattern based but at the same time very loose and improvisational. Steve Howe was at his noodly best, creating signature riffs and ascending runs on the guitar that could make any ordinary guitarist gulp in fear. Chris Squire is also very jazzy on this album, with a tighter and more concise approach to the bass on this one. And finally, Jon Anderson wrote some superb lyrics on this album, as well as sang his very best, so his performance should not go without credit.

The Gates of Delirium is the opener for this album, and it starts it off wonderfully. A very electronic feeling intro with some nice harmonics from Steve Howe breaks into a cohesive riff that takes the group to the better part of 9 minutes. The middle section of this song, known as the battle section, is a stunning 11/16 motif that is played with improvised bits of mixed percussion and "war sound effects" in the background. The ending is where the song hits its emotional peak and it really cannot get better from there. "Soon" (as the section and single were called) is a stunning section that features some great pedal steel from Howe and some overly emotional vocals from Anderson. The bass, drums, and keyboards work together cohesively and help carry the song to the end. Sound Chaser is the next song, and this is where the album gets jazzy. The opening ghastly keyboard tone from Moraz is complemented by manic drumming from White and superb bass runs from Squire. Howe also gets in on the jazzy action later in the song providing an out of this world guitar solo. This song is Yes at their experimental best and is a great counterpart to The Gates of Delirium. To Be Over is the weakest song on the album, and is a bit long for what it really is. The riffing and melody created is nothing very memorable, and the vocals are a bit on the weak side. It's the only thing spoiling this masterpiece of an album.

In the end, Relayer would be the debut and the finale for Patrick Moraz, as Rick Wakeman would take the keyboard helm for their next endeavour, Going for the One. This album is a bit of a timepiece for Yes, in that they never returned to this sort of sound, nor do I believe they ever wanted to. Two out of the three songs are masterpieces, and the finale is a bit on the weak side. I can't complain much, so I'll give this album a 4.5/5.

Cygnus X-2 | 4/5 |


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